R&D Tax Credits: HMRC’s Clawback Demands

Many SME businesses, which previously were able to apply for and receive Research and Development (R&D) tax breaks from HMRC for their innovative endeavours, find themselves now being pursued by HMRC to reimburse the funds received. HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is re-evaluating past claims for research and development (R&D) tax relief, prompted by a realisation of significant levels of error and fraud that have persisted over several years. HMRC asserts its obligation to ensure that claimants meet the criteria for the reliefs they have sought.

The intensifying scrutiny by HMRC on research & development (R&D) tax credit claims has left many businesses grappling with the implications and complexities of compliance. The revelation of significant inaccuracies in past claims underscores the urgency for businesses to carefully address and respond to HMRC’s demands for repayment with the benefit of considered and independent legal advice.


Our lawyers have a track record of successfully challenging HMRC decisions and will assist you to get an optimal result. We analyse the merits at the very outset in an initial video conference together with leading (ex-HMRC and Big 4) tax litigation counsel. We provide urgent advice and representation to clients from our unique expert team of established Tax specialist solicitors and barristers with a proven track record of delivering results. Call us on +442071830529, or email [email protected].

Research and Development (R&D) Tax Relief

Since its establishment in 2000, Research and Development (R&D) tax credits have aimed to support startup companies by providing tax relief for their investments in innovation. This initiative encourages businesses to pursue groundbreaking research and development projects. However, recent years have revealed a concerning trend where certain companies have abused the system, deviating from its intended purpose. This misuse has raised questions about the effectiveness and integrity of the R&D tax credit program.

HMRC has emphasised the seriousness of the situation, estimating that over £1 billion was lost due to errors and fraudulent activities in tax relief for smaller businesses during the peak of the pandemic in 2020-21. This significant loss highlights the urgent need for thorough reassessment and stronger enforcement measures to preserve the integrity of the system. As HMRC strives to ensure accountability and fairness, addressing these issues is crucial to maintain the R&D tax credits’ role in promoting innovation and aiding the growth of small businesses.

The Legal Framework

HMRC can revisit historic claims upon “discovering” potential errors, leading to demands for repayment, interest, and penalties. Notably, HMRC can pursue taxpayers for “carelessness” in their claims, potentially resulting in additional penalties.

Responding Strategically to HMRC

In response to HMRC’s demands, businesses have several avenues to consider. They may choose to concede the claim on a “without prejudice” basis, negotiating a repayment schedule while mitigating further penalties. Alternatively, contesting HMRC’s assertions requires expert advice and meticulous analysis of the original claim.

Expert Guidance and Support

Seeking assistance from reputable advisers is crucial in navigating this intricate terrain. Expert advisers can assess the validity of the original R&D claim, analyse incurred costs, and provide strategic counsel on contesting HMRC’s demands. Contact us to arrange a conference with our tax team today.

Leveraging Good Behaviour

Importantly, businesses demonstrating “good behaviour” may have opportunities to mitigate penalties. By cooperating with HMRC and showing willingness to rectify errors, companies can potentially negotiate favourable outcomes, including suspensions of careless error penalties.

Specialist UK Tax Advice

At LEXLAW, we specialise in guiding businesses through complex tax matters, including challenges with HMRC. Our experienced team of lawyers can provide expert advice, strategic representation, and negotiation support to help clients navigate HMRC’s demands effectively. Contact us today to discuss how we can safeguard your interests and achieve optimal outcomes in this challenging situation.

Advice for Taxpayers

Navigating HMRC’s demand to return R&D tax credit cash requires a strategic and informed approach. By understanding the legal landscape, leveraging expert guidance, and demonstrating cooperation with HMRC, businesses can effectively manage this challenge and protect their financial interests.

Expert Tax Investigation Lawyers

If you need HMRC Tax Investigation advice, we are available to aid you at every stage of the HMRC investigation process. Members of our legal team have first-hand experience and knowledge of the internal workings of HMRC. We can provide you with the very best representation in negotiations with HMRC and defending all forms of HMRC fraud, tax inquiry, tax fraud investigation, criminal tax evasion and HMRC enquiries and investigations. Our team specialises in successfully challenging HMRC decisions and will assist you in every aspect of the investigation. Our specialist Tax Solicitors and Barristers deliver expert technical knowledge, strong negotiation skills and respected advice, which can make a pronounced difference to eventual tax penalties, charges and liability.

We provide urgent advice and representation to clients from our unique expert team of established Tax and Duties specialist solicitors and barristers with a proven track record of delivering authoritative results. Just call us on 0207 1830 529, or email [email protected].

Want legal advice from Tax Solicitors on your case?

Our simple enquiry form goes immediately to our tax litigators in Middle Temple, London. Call us on +442071830529 from 9am-6pm.

Call Now Button search previous next tag category expand menu location phone mail time cart zoom edit close